No matter where we live, whom we live with, or what we do, there is an opportunity to make our life meaningful. Achieving meaning has nothing to do with how talented we are, or how much money we have, these are simply tools that some of us have chosen to work with to go about the business of uncovering the truth of who we are, and why we have taken a human body.
I used to wonder why some would choose a life of poverty, or living in a war zone, instead of having inherited wealth and guaranteed success in the material world? Eventually, I experienced and confirmed that it is a lot easier to expand our awareness when we are confronted with difficulties. Those willing to face their fears and climb the mountain that looms in front of them have a better chance of realizing their full potential than do those raised in the lap of luxury who have quite possibly cultivated narcissistic attitudes and arrogant beliefs about themselves and the world.
Neither set of circumstances lead more readily, one over the other, to happiness. Being happy is a choice concerning the way you choose to use whichever “opportunity set” your soul has selected for your present incarnation. Some of the happiest people I’ve met in my travels were the Kenyan family of ten who lived together in a straw roofed hut with dirt floor, and the Masai people whose valued cows join them in the family home each night
I am convinced that the particular circumstances of the life we now live are not an accidental happenstance. There is an agenda for the way our soul has designed them, and this agenda still influences how it continues to unfold. No matter what country and culture we are part of, life is an equal opportunity employer, having hired us to be the best we are capable of being — in every circumstance our particular chosen life happens to bring our way.
In truth, it is easier to be a hero when we are in a war zone than it is when we spend our days sitting on gold furniture in a gold plated house, using a gold toilet.
The purpose of any life is to be the hero of that life, and this doesn’t mean becoming Superman or Wonder Woman to save the world. It means becoming loving, caring and humble enough to serve “others.” And here, I might add a reminder, that we each must first be our own hero to ourselves before being effective heroes to others. Those “others” will include family members, people you know and work with and all the other people you don’t know. It is not about giving money, though in some cases it could be. In most cases it is about taking an action that demonstrates caring for someone other than yourself. This is why some spiritual teachings designate “selfless service” as a spiritual practice.
Advaita teachers like myself do not prescribe such practices, but the discovery of who we are and why we exist does lead to the same level of consciousness which “selfless service” can, because it takes us beyond our ego’s desire to “be special,” opening and filling our hearts with love for everyone, regardless of their circumstances.
Heroic service comes directly from the heart. We are all born with the potential to love unconditionally, and our life challenges were designed for us (by us), so we can achieve the full embodiment of this way of being. Happy New Year to all the heroes who have blessed my life.
With love and gratitude,